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Review

Hope Drone – Void Lustre Review

Band: Hope Drone
Album: Void Lustre
Label: Relapse Records
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal
Country: Australia
Release Date: August 30th, 2019

2019 has been one stellar year for music. It just seems that each year keeps one-upping the previous year in regard to the music that has been released. With the vast amount of new artists and bands today, it is almost impossible to find not find something to like. In the realm of black metal, the atmospheric- / post-black subgenre has really been quite stellar. Bands like Illyria, Numenorean, Falls of Rauros, Saor, Ashbringer, Mo’ynoq, Together to the Stars, and WRVTH for example dropped some fantastic music this year, hell, even Alcest is dropping a record later this year as well! There is no lack in the realm of current atmospheric black metal; what a time to be alive! With all the stellar releases out there, there are sure to be some solid and average releases as well; this is where Aussie-natives Hope Drone fit with their new record, Void Lustre. It is a solid record as the band certainly shows their talent, but the music itself is unfortunately nothing incredibly special or unique; it is a good record for what it is, but it is just much longer than it needed to be.

Whenever I want to listen to some atmospheric black metal, I will be honest to say that I would choose almost any other record over this one to satisfy that musical appetite. Yes, this record will occasionally satisfy that need of long, drawn out, and moody tracks, great for gloomy rainy days and so on, but this album really drags on. All the tracks are incredibly long, and that is not me saying that long songs are bad, quite the contrary actually. Long songs, when written and executed well, are absolutely fantastic, especially when the full time is filled with many different and interesting passages and so on, as is seen in tracks by Bloodbark and Ne Obliviscaris for example. These bands make those longer length tracks just fly by with everything that is going on at any given time; there is just never a dull moment. With Void Lustre, the tracks just seem to stay stationary for most of the duration of the songs. The opener, Being into Nothingness, starts off with some incredible atmosphere accompanied by some light percussion, and the rest of the band joins in about five minutes into the thirteen minute track. There is a sweet riff in this track, as well as one fresh passage in which the tempo very obviously picks up quite a bit, but once that tempo reaches its max pace, it is just the same chord progression, vocals, and percussion all the way to its anticlimactic end. Like on the opening track, most of the tracks on the record seem to build and then end up building to nothing, leaving you hanging most of the time.  There is so much tension but no release it seems, and that really nudges me the wrong way.

The thing that this record excels in the most is in the atmosphere that is created throughout the album. The opening track does an excellent job in the luscious and enthralling atmosphere that is created in that five-minute intro. It is exceptionally blissful to just shut your eyes and let the music take you away. It is quite well done and I wish that it would’ve been mixed in with the rest of the music a little more rather than just having it at the intro and then permanently transition completely to chords, blast beats, and harsh vocals completely abandoning that atmospheric sound for the rest of the track. The tremendous atmosphere that the band creates comes and goes and replaced with the relentless black metal assault. The closing track In Shifting Lights has a great ambient section towards the middle of this 17-minute hulk of a song; which certainly provides a much needed break from the rest of the long-winded track. As mentioned before, the songs tend to drag on a lot more than they should and there aren’t many interesting stand-out passages through the record because of that. The tracks all tend to have the same pace all the way through and make for a slightly difficult listen all the way through, especially when trying to identify the songs and key features, which shouldn’t be difficult at all give that there are only five tracks to begin with. When the atmosphere is there, it is masterfully done, but there is so little variation within the rest of the music. The vocals are very one-dimensional and just leaves more to be desired. I am left craving more play between the atmosphere and the relentless onslaught of black metal. Numenorean do an excellent job in regard to finding a perfect balance between the soft and luscious atmospheric sections with the blistering and violent passages whereas Hope Drone tried and didn’t necessarily succeed in that respect. Hope Drone have most certainly shown that they can write black metal and atmospheric music, but combining those two styles of music seems to have caused some difficulty.

Hope Drone certainly display their chops during the both the chill atmospheric parts and the relentless black metal segments, that much is clear. There are plenty of melodic and blistering riffs throughout the record, but they do repeat indefinitely on whatever track they are found on.  If the tracks were not dragged out as long as they are, the heavier and faster passages would certainly be less exhausting and much more exhilarating for the listener.  There is just so much excess fat found on each track on this record that needs to be trimmed down to something that is easier to digest as a whole. I’d say that this record could easily be cut down to 30-40 minutes instead of the hour-plus runtime without cutting out any of the important and interesting parts. Again, it just seems that a lot of the passages are just incredibly long and repetitive and it is completely unnecessary to have sections that long which really takes away from the rest of the musical experience, ultimately doing more harm than good. Hope Drone definitely have the potential to write some solid riffs as well as relaxing atmospheric sections that take you to another world, but the overall composition is what is lacking on Void Lustre it seems. It is a great record to have going on in the background while doing other things as the full runtime would be less mentally exhausting while doing some other tasks to keep you somewhat distracted. Overall, Void Lustre is a solid record, and the occasions in which I will want to listen through its entirety will be rare to be brutally honest.

Rating:  6/10

Tracklist:

  1. Being into Nothingness
  2. Forged by the Tide
  3. In Floods & Depths
  4. This Body Will Be Ash
  5. In Shifting Lights

Total Playing Time: 1:03:48

Click here to visit Hope Drone’s Bandcamp

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